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Sport in Romania are an important part of the country's culture. Romania has risen to prominence in a number of sporting areas in recent decades. Association football is the most popular sport in Romania, a nation of 20 million. The most successful club is Steaua Bucharest, who were the first Eastern European side to win the European Cup and the European Supercup in 1986. Romania is one of only four national teams from Europe that took part in the first World Cup in 1930. The Romania national football team has taken part in seven FIFA World Cups and had its most successful run during the 1990s, when they reached the quarterfinals of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, losing to Sweden in the penalty shootout. Romania was ranked third by FIFA in 1997.
Other popular sports include handball, volleyball, basketball, rugby union, tennis, and gymnastics.Many Romanian athletes have achieved significant success and have won World and European championships in numerous sports during the years. Romania participated in the Olympic Games for the first time in 1900 and has taken part in 21 of the 28 summer games. It has been one of the more successful countries at the Summer Olympic Games, with a total of 307 medals won throughout the years, of which 89 gold ones, ranking 15th overall. Almost a quarter of all the medals and 25 of the gold ones were won in gymnastics. Romanian athletes have also won gold medals in other Olympic sports, such as rowing, athletics, canoeing, wrestling, shooting, fencing, swimming, discus throw, weightlifting, boxing, and judo.
Football is the most popular sport in Romania. The most internationally known Romanian player is Gheorghe Hagi, who played for Steaua București (Romania), Real Madrid, FC Barcelona (Spain), and Galatasaray (Turkey), among others. Other famous Romanian players include: Nicolae Dobrin, Ilie Balaci, Dudu Georgescu, Florea Dumitrache, Mircea Petescu, Dan Coe, Cornel Dinu, Marcel Răducanu, Mircea Lucescu, Anghel Iordănescu, Ion Dumitru, Rodion Cămătaru, Ladislau Boloni, Silviu Lung, Mircea Rednic, Gheorghe Popescu, Dan Petrescu, Constantin Gâlcă, Miodrag Belodedici, Dorinel Munteanu, Bogdan Stelea, Ioan Lupescu, Ilie Dumitrescu, Viorel Moldovan, Florin Răducioiu, Adrian Ilie, Bogdan Lobonț, Cosmin Contra, Cristian Chivu, Adrian Mutu, Răzvan Raț, Dorin Goian and Lucian Sânmărtean.
In 1986, the Romanian football club Steaua București became the first Eastern European club ever to win the prestigious European Champions Cup title. They reached the final again in 1989, but lost to AC Milan. Other important Romanian football clubs are Dinamo București, Universitatea Craiova, Rapid București, FC Argeş Piteşti, FC Petrolul Ploieşti, UTA Arad and FC Timişoara. The Romanian national football team has taken part in seven FIFA World Cups, and had its most successful run through the 1990s, reaching the quarter-finals of the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States, when the "Golden Generation" was at its best.
The National Arena Stadium in Bucharest hosted the 2012 UEFA Europa League Final.
Handball is one of the most popular sports in Romania. The Romania men's national handball team has won the Handball IHF World Cup a record four times (1961, 1964, 1970, and 1974). The only other team to have matched this record is Sweden in 1999 and France in 2011. The Romania women's national handball team has won the Handball World Cup in 1962. Steaua, Dinamo and CSM București have also won several European titles over the years.
Romania has produced many great handball players, including Gheorghe Gruia, Alexandru Dedu, Vasile Stângă, Mircea Costache II, Petre Ivănescu, Cornel Penu, Alexandru Buligan, Marian Dumitru, Cristian Gaţu and Cristian Zaharia.
On the women's side, the top Romanians include: four times IHF World Player of the Year winner Cristina Neagu, Luminița Dinu, Mariana Tîrcă, Narcisa Lecușanu, Valentina Elisei and Cristina Vărzaru.
Romania is represented by the men's and women's national volleyball teams, which are governed by Federaţia Română de Volei and take part in international volleyball competitions. Both the men's and women's teams have won several medals at international competitions over the years, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. The men's national volleyball team also won a bronze medal at the 1980 Olympics. Its most recent notable results include the Final 4 of the 2010 Men's European Volleyball League. The performance was also repeated in the next year.
At club level Dinamo București, Rapid and CSM București have won several European titles.
The city of Bucharest hosted the Final Four of the 2017–18 CEV Women's Champions League.
Basketball is a very popular sport among Romanian youth, although its results, both past and present, are more modest than other Romanian team sports. Gheorghe Mureșan was the first Romanian to enter NBA, and he became known as the tallest man ever to play in that league. Other products of the Romanian basketball school are Mihai Albu, Dragoș Nosievici, Costel Cernat, Constantin Popa, Virgil Stănescu and Vlad Moldoveanu.
In 2016, Romania was chosen as a host for the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket. Romania will host the 2020 FIBA Under-17 Women's Basketball World Cup with Cluj-Napoca as the host city between August 15 and 23 2020.
Rugby union is a relatively popular team sport played in Romania, with a tradition of more than 100 years. The Romania national rugby union team has so far competed at every Rugby World Cup.
Bucharest Wolves is the team that represents Romania in the European Challenge Cup.
Romania holds a long tradition in artistic gymnastics, especially in the ladies competition. Gymnastics is responsible for the majority of Romania's Olympic medals, gold, silver, and bronze. The most famous Romanian gymnast is Nadia Comăneci, who was the first gymnast to ever score a perfect 10 at the Olympic Games, during the 1976 Summer Olympics. She also won three gold medals, one silver, and one bronze, all at the age of fourteen.Her success continued in the 1980 Summer Olympics, winning two gold medals and two silver medals. At the 1976 Olympic Games, Teodora Ungureanu did very well too, but did not receive as much fame as Nadia. Other famous gymnasts include: Daniela Silivaş, Ecaterina Szabo, Lavinia Miloşovici, Gina Gogean, Simona Amânar, Andreea Răducan, Maria Olaru, Cătălina Ponor, Sandra Izbaşa, and Larisa Iordache.
Top Romanian men's gymnasts include: Marius Urzică and Marian Drăgulescu.
Gymnastics has a very long tradition in Romania, which goes back in time decades before the major success of Montreal. Romania was also successful in the 1950s, when Elena Leușteanu won an individual Olympic medal in 1956.
Ilie Năstase, a famous Romanian tennis player, is another internationally known Romanian sports star. He won several Grand Slam titles and dozens of other tournaments and was the first player to be ranked as number 1 by ATP from 1973 to 1974; he also was a successful doubles player. Virginia Ruzici was a successful tennis player in the 1970s. Ilie Năstase and Simona Halep are the only Romamian tennis players to have achieved no. 1, in the ATP and WTA, respectively.
Romania reached the Davis Cup finals three times (1969, 1971, 1972). Other popular men's tennis players include Ion Ţiriac and Andrei Pavel. As for active players, the top Romanians on the men's side are the doubles players, Horia Tecău and Florin Mergea, who also brought Romania's first olympic medal in tennis, a silver in 2016.In women's tennis, Magda Rurac, Virginia Ruzici, Irina Spîrlea, and Ruxandra Dragomir are among the top Romanian players of all time. Among active players, the top Romanians include Simona Halep, Sorana Cirstea, Mihaela Buzarnescu, Irina Begu, Monica Niculescu. Simona Halep has won two Grand Slam singles titles: the 2018 French Open and the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, and was the year-end No. 1 in 2017 and 2018.
Oină is a traditional Romanian sport with similarities to baseball.
Boxing is popular in Romania, especially in the TV broadcastings. Famous boxers include: Nicolae Linca, Francisc Vaştag, Mihai Leu, Lucian Bute, Leonard Doroftei, and Adrian Diaconu.
Romanian oarspeople have brought numerous successes, including 35 Olympic medals (18 gold) for rowing and 34 medals (10 gold) for canoeing. Romania is a leading rowing nation. Often boasting many wins each year in the Junior World Rowing Championships. In the under-23's age level, Romania often field a strong team. Often medalling in the women's events.
The Romanian Senior Women's rowing team is particularly strong. They have been the poster child team as regards women's rowing. They consistently perform in the coxed women's eight. In the Olympics, they won the women's coxless pair.
Chess is fairly popular among some groups, especially retired people and mathematicians. The highest FIDE rating Romanian player is the grandmaster Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu.
Fencing as a sport was introduced in Romania in the 19th century by French masters. The first national fencing competition was held in 1921 and the Romanian Fencing Federation was created in 1931. The first Romanian fencer to reach the podium in a major international competition was Maria Vicol, who earned a silver medal at the 1956 Junior World Championships in Luxembourg.
Since then, fencing has brought Romania eight Olympic team medals and seven Olympic individual medals, including three golds: Ion Drîmbă (foil) at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, Laura Badea (foil) at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and Mihai Covaliu (sabre) at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Romanian fencers also earned 13 gold medals in World Fencing Championships and 13 gold medals in European Fencing Championships. Six Romanians feature in the Hall of Fame of the International Fencing Federation: Laura Badea, Mihai Covaliu, Ana Pascu, Petru Kuki, Ioan Pop and Reka Szabo. Three Romanian athletes are currently amongst the ten top-ranked fencers: Ana Maria Brânză and Simona Gherman in women's épée and Tiberiu Dolniceanu in men's sabre.
Transilvania Motor Ring is the first permanent circuit in Romania, and was opened in November 2018 near Târgu Mureș.
Romania had significant success in the 20th century in athletics. Iolanda Balaș and Lia Manoliu are important names of the mid-20th century.
Table tennis is also a sport with good results in Romania. Angelica Rozeanu achieved major success in this sport in the 1950s. Elizabeta Samara is a contemporary table tennis three-time European champion.
Maybe slightly surprising for a country of its size, Romania has been one of the most successful countries in the history of the Summer Olympic Games (15th overall) with a total of 307 medals won throughout the years, 89 of which are gold medals.Romania has appeared in 21 of the 28 Summer Olympic Games. The nation debuted at the 1900 Summer Olympics, appeared again three times between the World Wars, and has competed at every event since the 1952 Summer Olympics.
France has competed in every modern Olympic Games, although its participation at the 1904 Games is questionable, with Albert Corey's appearance being credited by different sources to either the United States or France. The IOC has determined that his affiliation was to the United States of America.
Ilie Dumitrescu is a Romanian former football player and coach, currently restaurateur and football pundit, who was last manager of FC Steaua București. A technical, persistent and effective winger, he shot to fame when his frontline partnership with Gheorghe Hagi and Florin Răducioiu led the Romania national team to the 1994 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal, eliminating Argentina en route, in a match in which he scored two of Romania's three goals.
Sportin Serbia plays an important role, and the country has a strong sporting history. The most popular sports in Serbia are football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, water polo and handball.
Sport in Croatia has significant role in Croatian culture, and many local sports clubs as well as the Croatian national squads enjoy strong followings in the country. The most enduring sport by far in Croatia is football, and is played on amateur and professional levels amongst all age groups across the entire country. Several other major team sports are handball, basketball and water polo, with clubs in all parts of Croatia. Ice hockey is another popular team sport, namely in the Croatian interior. The most popular individual sports in Croatia are tennis, alpine skiing, and swimming, and to some extent table tennis and chess. Various amateur sport games are popular in Croatia, notably picigin.
Clubul Sportiv al Armatei Steaua București, commonly known as CSA Steaua București or simply Steaua, is a major multi-sports club based in Bucharest and run by the Ministry of National Defence. It is one of the most successful clubs in Romania and among the most successful multi-sport clubs in Europe. Founded on 7 June 1947 as Asociația Sportivă a Armatei București, the club changed its name several times before settling on to Steaua in 1961.
Ştefan Birtalan is a former Romanian handball player, coach and sports official.
Sports in Portugal are important in Portuguese culture. Football is the most popular sport in Portugal. Other than football, many other professional or semi-professional well organized sport competitions take place every season in Portugal, including basketball, swimming, athletics, tennis, gymnastics, futsal, rink hockey, team handball, volleyball, surfing, canoeing and rugby union championships among the hundreds of sports played in this country.
Greece has risen to prominence in a number of sporting areas in recent decades. Football in particular has seen a rapid transformation, with the Greek national football team winning the 2004 UEFA European Football Championship. Many Greek athletes have also achieved significant success and have won world and olympic titles in numerous sports during the years, such as basketball, wrestling, water polo, athletics, weightlifting, with many of them becoming international stars inside their sports. The successful organisation of the Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games led also to the further development of many sports and has led to the creation of many world class sport venues all over Greece and especially in Athens. Greek athletes have won a total 146 medals for Greece in 15 different Olympic sports at the Summer Olympic Games, including the Intercalated Games, an achievement which makes Greece one of the top nations globally, in the world's rankings of medals per capital.
Romania competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics, be held in Beijing, People's Republic of China from August 8 to August 24, 2008. Romania intended to send 104 competitors to Beijing, although the delegation was reduced to 102 when two Romanian athletes were suspended for doping before the start of the Olympics. The Romanian delegation for Beijing was the smallest Romanian Olympic delegation since the 1989 Revolution. Romanians competed in 16 sports, including athletics, archery, handball, gymnastics, wrestling, swimming, diving, weightlifting, fencing, table tennis, shooting, tennis, judo, boxing, kayak-canoeing and rowing.
Laura Gabriela Badea-Cârlescu is a retired Romanian foil fencer, world champion in 1995 and Olympic champion in 1996. After her retirement she became a coach, then a sport administrator. She is now vice-president of the Romanian Fencing Federation and a member of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee.
Ana Maria Popescu, formerly known as Ana Maria Brânză, is a Romanian left-handed épée fencer, 2013 individual European champion, four-time Olympian, 2008 individual Olympic silver medalist, and 2016 team Olympic champion.
Bulgaria has established traditions in a great variety of sports.
Octavian Zidaru is a Romanian fencer and coach.
Romania competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, from 27 July to 12 August 2012. This nation has competed at the Summer Olympic Games since its official debut in 1924, missing only two editions, including the 1948 Summer Olympics. Despite being London's third Olympic Games, this is the first time the Romanian team has competed in London. The Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee sent a total of 103 athletes to the Games, 54 men and 49 women, to compete in 14 sports.
Sport in Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had significant role in its culture and society. Team sports such as football, basketball, handball, volleyball and water polo had the biggest popularity. Of individual sports the most popular were tennis, athletics, alpine skiing, swimming, table tennis, ski jumping, chess... Yugoslavia made its debut at the Summer Olympics in 1920. Until its break up in 1992, it competed in 16 Summer and 14 Winter Olympic games and won a total of 87 medals in various summer and winter sports. Yugoslavia hosted its first and the only Winter Olympic games in 1984 in Sarajevo when Jure Franko won country's first Winter Olympic medal, silver in alpine skiing.
Simona Pop née Deac is a retired Romanian épée fencer, bronze medallist at the 2015 European Championships, team silver medallist in the 2015 World Fencing Championships and team European champion in 2014 and 2015.
Maria Ruxandra Udrea is a Romanian épée fencer. She won a team silver medal in the 2013 European Fencing Championships in Zagreb and a bronze medal in the 2013 World Fencing Championships in Budapest.
Romania competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 5 to 21 August 2016. Since the nation's participation started in 1900, Romanian athletes had appeared in every edition of the Summer Olympic Games, except for two occasions: the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles at the period of the worldwide Great Depression, and the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.
The Netherlands is expected to compete at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Originally scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020, the Games have been postponed to 23 July to 8 August 2021, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the nation's official debut in 1900, Dutch athletes had competed at every edition of the Summer Olympic Games, with the exception of the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis and 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, which the Netherlands boycotted because of the Soviet invasion of Hungary.
Romania is expected to compete at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Originally scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020, the Games have been postponed to 23 July to 8 August 2021, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the nation's participation started in 1900, Romanian athletes have appeared in every edition of the Summer Olympic Games, except for two occasions: the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles at the period of the worldwide Great Depression, and the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.